Carla La Tella


Mon, 18 Oct, 2021

Police release new image in search for Cleo Smith

Police release new image in search for Cleo Smith

Image: WA Police

Cleo Smith’s biological father has reportedly spent three hours talking to police after his four-year-old daughter went missing at a remote campsite.

According to Seven News, Daniel Staines was asked to give a statement at Mandurah Station, 1000km south of where Cleo went missing.

He reportedly did so willingly and appeared with his parents by his side. There is no suggestion he has had anything to do with his daughter’s disappearance.

It came as police released footage of the campsite Cleo disappeared from as a desperate search for the missing four-year-old entered its fourth day.

Cleo was last seen at about 1:30 am on Saturday at the Blowholes Campground in Macleod, 50km north of Carnarvon in Western Australia’s north.

Her parents woke up a few hours later at 6 am and realised she was gone, and set about their search with other campers before contacting police.

Her sleeping bag had also disappeared, and other campers in the area reportedly heard a car screeching away from the area at about 3am.

Image: WA Police

The remote campsite, popular among Carnarvon families, is surrounded by sand dunes, shrub lands and rocky terrain, with a few surrounding beach shacks owned by locals.

Apart from the small cluster of shacks and caravans, the area is desolate, with a pristine beach being the only thing disrupting the otherwise vacant land.

The grounds take their name from nearby blowholes, which can be spotted about 1km north of the campsite when waves smash against the cliffs and shoot through the rock holes.

Adjacent to the campsite is a white sandy beach and coral-filled lagoon, which is popular among families for snorkelling and picnics.

While beautiful and picturesque, the area can also be deadly, with ‘king waves’ – powerful, unexpected waves up to 10 times bigger than the waves before them that come without warning. This is a frequent occurrence.

The Carnarvon Shire Council closed the Blowholes observation area in July last year after a person was nearly swept into the ocean after a dangerous king wave.

“There is a well-documented history of multiple fatalities and injuries on the Quobba coastline from king waves,” the council’s warning read.

“King waves inundate areas of the coastline far above the normal expectations of most people. Extreme caution is advised visiting the coastline at present.”

WA Police inspector John Munday revealed that in search for Cleo, authorities were “throwing everything we can at this search in these initial stages”.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority jet had been brought in, along with other patrols including drones, helicopters and SES crews.

Police were investigating the possibility she had been abducted, revealing that her red sleeping bag was also missing from the campsite.

“It’s a very tough environment there, we feel desperately for the family in this very unusual situation where we don’t know where Cleo is,” Inspector Munday said.

We’ve brought in forensic examiners from our homicide and crime division as well, we’re not ruling anything in or out.”

He said on Sunday crews were “going as hard as we can, as long as we can, to try and find Cleo.”

Police are also investigating the possibility that she has wandered off and become lost.

So far, three nautical miles south of the camp has been covered in the marina search, as well as one nautical mile north, and one nautical mile out to sea.

Cleo was last seen wearing a pink/purple one piece sleepsuit with a blue and yellow pattern.

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